Alberta thumbs its rose

When he was mayor of Calgary in the early ’80s, Ralph Klein famously called for the removal of all “Eastern bums and creeps”

When he was mayor of Calgary in the early ’80s, Ralph Klein famously called for the removal of all “Eastern bums and creeps” who he blamed for straining the city’s social services.

Today, he might have to include more than a few Islanders on that list, too, as Alberta’s latest budget is making our Texan neighbour look mighty attractive.

In her first big budget, Alberta Premier Alison Redford contains all those optimistic assumptions about economic growth that voters love to hear. While our own bread lines grow longer and our teachers, for one, are being told there’s no money left in the coffers, Alberta is raising welfare and child-support payments, and lowering the threshold to include more families. It is also splashing out more oil money for health care, education, seniors and to municipalities. And in a move that could spark a wheelchair race for the border, it is significantly increasing the living allowance for people with severe handicaps. In B.C., this allowance is $906 per month. In Alberta, it is now $1,588. At nearly double the income, our handicapped citizens may be having second thoughts about living in the most beautiful city in Canada. After all, you can’t eat pretty.

And just to rub our noses in it, Alberta does this without raising taxes or charging provincial sales tax, or for the potential home owners out there, a cash-grabbing property transfer tax. (Yep, this last one bugs me.)

If your butt is now wet, that’s just your wallet crying.

However, despite the obvious economic happy dance of keeping more of your hard-earned wages for yourself, there are downsides to living one province over that all Islanders must be aware of.

For one, it’s full of Texans Albertans. If you believe you’re right-wing here, in Alberta you’ll be considered left wing. And if you’re already left-wing, they’ll likely round you up and hang you from the gates of the Calgary Stampede as warning of an impending Communist invasion. They did the same thing to rats and have been vigilant ever since.

For two, your vote will only count if you make your mark for Conservative. Any other vote will be tossed aside and regarded as either a mistake or grounds to have you institutionalized.

Although it’s not currently illegal to be gay in Alberta, it’s certainly not encouraged. If you want to be flamboyant in public, you’ll have to wear a cowboy hat, vomit-proof boots, and punch friends rather than kiss them.

Alberta does have lakes — not many natural ones, but they’ve built a ton of artificial puddles that, on occasion, stay open for most of the summer.

I’m surprised the B.C. Liberals didn’t mention any of this in their budget speech . . . if only to soften the blow. M

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